SK8 to ELIMIN8 CANCER – August 8

Posted by on Friday, July 25th, 2014

Sk8 to Elimin8 Cancer Fundraiser

Join in the fun and take to the ice on Friday, August 8th from 8:00-10:00 p.m., for the inaugural Sk8 to Elimin8 Cancer. This event will take place at Cool Sports, Home of the Icearium, 110 S. Watt Road in West Knoxville.  The Provision CARES Foundation, a not-for-profit, 501C (3) organization, and Cool Sports are partnering on this fun, family-friendly ice skating event which will raise money to fight cancer and support patients, their families, and their caregivers.

Cost for this event is $8 at the door which includes skate rental.   Do you have what it takes to lace up your skates and help us by asking friends, families, and coworkers to pledge their support for your efforts in the Sk8 to Elimin8 Cancer?  Several participants have already asked people to support this event through gifts of $10, $20, or even $50.  As you will see at www.provisioncares.org, people like you are using the sponsor form to secure pledges.

No RSVP is required to attend on August 8th.  Whether you skate or not, we encourage you to attend this inaugural event.  The important thing is for everyone to unite in our mission to support cancer patients.  If you can’t make it, please consider pledging your support through a donation.  Many Provision and Cool Sports employees, figure skaters, hockey players, and others are securing pledges to raise money to make a difference.

Unfortunately, we are all touched by cancer.  The good news is we can make a difference in supporting patients and their families through the Provision CARES Foundation.  Whether it is education and wellness programs, funding research, or providing patient assistance, the Provision CARES Foundation fights cancer because of people investing in its mission.

If you have questions, visit www.provisioncares.org or call the Provision CARES Foundation at (865) 243-3459.

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My Proton Therapy Journey: Niek Schreuder

Posted by on Friday, July 18th, 2014

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Niek Schreuder, M.Sc. DABR, vice president and chief medical physicist, is a board-certified medical physicist at Provision Center for Proton Therapy in Knoxville.  He explains, in his own words, his career path into proton therapy.

I started my career in medical physics in South Africa in 1988 when I decided to change from health physics – where one tries to limit radiation to people – to medical physics – where one applies radiation to people.  In 1989 I joined the particle therapy program at the National Accelerator Center in Cape Town, South Africa, now called iThemba labs, and in September 1989 we treated the first patients with high-energy neutrons at that facility in Cape Town.  Soon after that we started developing the proton therapy system and treated the first patients 1993.  The proton facility in Cape Town was, and still is, a truly homemade and pioneering system and remains the only particle therapy facility in the Southern Hemisphere.  Developing that facility taught me the fundamental and basic principles of proton medical physics as well as the electronics involved in making the technology possible.

In 1996 Prof. Jean-Pierre Blaser from the Paul Sherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland, where the first proton pencil beam scanning treatments were done, visited the facility in Cape Town.  He expressed the vision that one day the majority of radiation therapy world-wide will be done with protons.  When he saw our disbelief he asked the question “why are you doing research in proton therapy if you don’t believe it will be used in the future?”  That’s when I decided to move to the USA to devote my life to furthering the development of proton therapy and more so making it available to more people.  I moved my family to Bloomington, Indiana, in February 2001 to become the lead medical physicist at the Midwest Proton Therapy Facility (MPRI) under the leadership of the late Dr. John Cameron.  We treated the first patient at the MPRI facility (now called IU Health Proton Therapy Facility) in the spring of 2004.  In 2005, I joined ProCure treatment centers as a founding member constructing four more proton therapy centers across the USA between 2007 and 2012.  When I participated in the opening of the Provision Center for Proton Therapy in Knoxville I realized that it was the 7th proton therapy facility I was involved in opening – probably a world record, but certainly true to the vision cast by Prof. Blaser in 1996.

It’s my honest belief that proton therapy is the next major step in the technological development of cancer treatments and will proliferate significantly in the very near future.  The availability and deliverability of pencil beam scanning makes this dream possible and today I am more convinced than ever that the vision casted by Prof. Blaser is attainable and will lead to a significant improvement in cancer cure rates across the globe.

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What is Dosimetry?

Posted by on Friday, July 11th, 2014

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I am a Medical Dosimetrist here at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy in Knoxville.  The reason for this blog post is to answer a question I have been asked by many friends and family. What is Dosimetry?  As I was writing this, I found it amusing that Microsoft Word underlines the word Dosimetrist in red due to the fact it doesn’t recognize the spelling.  To put it quite simply a Dosimetrist is one who measures dose.

So what are the responsibilities of a Medical Dosimetrist in the field of proton therapy?  A Dosimetrist is an individual that is part of a Dosimetry team that has many roles and duties.  Although the duties of a Dosimetrist are numerous, I am going to outline three of the major responsibilities of a Dosimetrist.  They are importation, contouring and planning.

IMPORTATION

The first of these is to import the CT scan into a treatment planning computer.  After a patient comes in on their first day and gets their treatment planning CT scan, the images are sent electronically to Physics where a Dosimetrist will import those images into a treatment planning computer and, if necessary, will fuse them with any other test they may have had, such as an MRI or a PET/CT.  Fusing is when a Dosimetrist overlays and aligns the treatment area found on a previous PET/CT or MRI with the treatment area on the treatment planning CT images.  Not all cases need to be fused and the necessity of whether to fuse or not is dictated by the Physician.

CONTOURING

Once the images are fused, the second responsibility of a Dosimetrist is to contour in the “organs at risk” or as we refer to them: O.A.R.’s.  Organs at risk are defined as organs that are in the path of the beam and/or are in close proximity of the beam and have a low radiation dose tolerance.  An example of these would be the eye when treating the brain, the heart when treating a lung or the bladder when treating the prostate.  To contour these structures the Dosimetrist will use the treatment planning software to trace around the organs that are represented on the treatment planning CT images.  Once these organs and tissues are drawn the physician will come in and contour in the area that needs to be treated to their prescribed dose.   It is during this time that the number of beams and their angles are discussed.

PLANNING

After the Physician has contoured in the treatment area, sometimes referred to as the Region of Interest, and the Dosimetrist has contoured in the O.A.R’s, the Dosimetrist can start the most important part of their job, the planning.  How a patient will be treated is collectively decided by the Physician, the Dosimetrist and the Medical Physicist.  The Physician will let the Dosimetrist know how much radiation they want delivered to the treatment site and in how many fractions or days.  The Dosimetrist will then enter that information into the treatment planning system and create a plan that will deliver that dose to the cancer while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible. After the plan has been approved by the Physician and has passed Physics Quality Assurance testing it is then exported to the treatment console for the Radiation Therapists to deliver daily treatments to the patient until the prescription is fulfilled.

I hope this answers a few of your questions and spurs a few more.  Please feel free to ask me or any other staff members any questions you may have about your treatment.

jeff-stamper

Jeff Stamper is a Medical Dosimetrist at Provision Center for Proton Therapy.

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